Upon entering Glorietta last October 9, I can hear the thunderous drums of the band Brigada reverberating on the walls, a loud beacon to Lee Kum Kee’s Cook with the Masters Grand Cooking Demo, a star-studded cooking event to celebrate Lee Kum Kee’s 123rd anniversary. I sighed in relief to see that the event hasn’t started yet because I barely got there. A sudden rainshower inundated some streets in Makati that afternoon, leaving me wandering how I could paddle my way to Glorietta. Anyway, I’m glad I made it.
Hosted by the radiant and engaging Issa Litton, this was one of the grandest cooking demo of the year, the end part of a series of cooking demos that featured culinary luminaries like Chef Sandy Daza, Chef Eugene Raymundo, Chef Ernest Gala, Chef Him Uy De Baron and Chef Sau del Rosario, with the biggest finale featuring Lee Kum Kee’s Southeast Asian brand ambassador, Chef Bruce Lim.
This event was a chance for people to know more about Lee Kum Kee, thanks to an interactive booth area with sections like a history wall which showed the origins of Lee Kum Kee and a tasting area for product sampling. Moreover, it was also an opportunity to bring the brand closer to the people as it showcased selected audience members and culinary students from Center for Culinary Arts and Magsaysay Center for Hospitality cooking alongside Chef Bruce using Lee Kum Kee products.
I feel quite fortunate to be invited in this impressive affair because it gave foodies like me a chance to be in the midst of great chefs in the country like Chef Sandy Daza who I grew up watching his cooking shows, Chef Sau del Rosario who I regularly see on TV and magazines and of course, Chef Bruce Lim who I often watch cooking with celebrities. Because truly, they are stars in their own right, in fact I even saw Chef Sau being flocked by fans asking for his autograph.
But more than that, it was the discovery of the flavors of Lee Kum Kee that was an eye-opener for me. I admit, I have heard of this brand before and even pass it along grocery aisles but I haven’t actually tried it. And it was in their taste test area booth that they caught my attention. After dipping a sliver of sample dumpling to the Lee Kum Kee soy sauce, I was taken aback by the depth of its flavor. It had a zing to it, a little heat that surprised me because it deliciously complemented the flavor of the dumpling, creating a good fusion of flavors in my mouth. This is no ordinary soy sauce. It definitely lives up to its premium soy sauce label. Curious, I looked at the back of the bottle, it says that it had always been brewed in a traditional and natural method.
My, if Lee Kum Kee started in 1888 as I read in their history wall, then that’s more than a century of brewing quality soy sauce, its formulation handed down for decades. Maybe that’s why its flavor was incomparable to the other soy sauce I’ve tasted. Wow, I can’t wait to share this discovery to my husband who loves drenching his siomai with soy sauce. It will be hard going back to the ordinary ones after tasting this.
Meanwhile, among the superlative dishes Chef Bruce cooked that afternoon, I only got to taste two, the Spicy Seaside Prawns simmered in Lee Kum Kee Chili garlic, Premium Oyster Sauce and Seasoned Soy Sauce for Seafood and the Braised Pork Belly cooked in Lee Kum Kee Premium Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce and Hoisin Sauce. And I tell you, when the prawns were cooking I can smell the delicious flavors wafting through the air, its scent promising something great. And it did. It was tasty, though its flavors were not as strong as I imagined it to be, the combination of sauces was still good, subtly infusing itself to the unshelled prawns. The braised pork, on the other hand, was delicately soft with the fat almost falling off, its sweetness tempered just right and not too overwhelming.
And adding more glitter and “flavor” to this grand event were the Kapamilya and Kapuso stars like Phoemela Barranda, Desiree del Valle, Baron Geisler, Enzo Pineda, Rocco Nocino, Djanine Cruz and Steven Silva. They all cooked with Chef Bruce, each brandishing their own culinary skills. Clearly enjoying themselves, they were an added treat to the audience.
Overall, it had been a spectacular afternoon despite the rain. And as I thanked the organizers at the end of this cooking extravaganza, I was delighted to receive a small bag of Lee Kum Kee products that I can try at home. I was particularly excited by this token because I was earlier handed out a recipe booklet that featured the recipes of the six distinguished chefs using Lee Kum Kee products. You see, I haven’t really attempted cooking Chinese dishes because I'm not familiar with Chinese seasonings and the like but having discovered authentic Chinese sauces like Lee Kum Kee that has spanned more than a century, I'm thinking maybe it's time I should do so.
Because with Lee Kum Kee products stashed in my kitchen arsenal, maybe I could finally regale my family and friends with authentic Chinese dishes that can rival any Chinese restaurant, haha...that would be fun. And did I mention my husband is just gaga over Chinese food? He’ll be doubly thrilled with this I’m sure.